He's somebody who intrigues me on the level of thinking, maybe once or twice in a year, "I wonder what Cameron Mathews is doing right now." I'm not obsessed. He's not often on my mind. But when I see a picture of the guy or read his name, in any of its variant spellings, I'm flooded with a warm feeling for him that's got nothing or almost nothing to do with lust. Maybe once or twice ever, he has entered my wrestling fantasies, but my fascination with him is more than just professional respect.
His complexities are what most interest me. The ambivalence of his sexual persona. His soft-spokenness in counterpoint to his ambition (and ubiquity). His pastel masculinity. His place in both gay wrestling and live independent wrestling, the kind straight people and their kids go to see. His boy-next-door-ness combined with the tendency of fans to speak of him with reverential awe. His willingness to respond to private messages, yet his responses always as aloofly abstract as messages in fortune cookies.
He's been almost everywhere that strikes me as interesting--BG East, Can-Am, Cyberfights, NWA, Ring of Honor, Spotland Scrappers, Thunder's Arena--and private matches internationally. And it seems like he's been around forever, yet he's not yet 30 years old.
In Can-Am's new release Rookie Beatdown 1, he leaves his babyface roots behind (at least for now) to play the heel against rookie Bobby Blake. It's an assured move for Mathews, one he manages with only minimal deviation from his long-established clean-cut image. True to his paradoxical nature, he manages to be both cocky and self-effacing as a badass. His face is now more angular, now that the last of the baby fat is gone (I'd like to see him with some stubble on that jawline), and his body continues to evolve amazingly. He berates Bobby for arriving late to the ring, for being unprepared, yet it's more like a big brother's scolding.
Like a lot of matches pitting veteran against rookie, this one begins with the older pro instructing the new guy on basic wrestling moves. He begins by showing Bobby what a full nelson feels like. ("Not that good," reports Bobby.) Next Cam clamps on a side headlock (for those who don't already know, one of my favorite holds). He grinds Bobby's right ear up against his chest, adding pressure with each roll of his broad shoulders. Bobby tries to escape by falling flat on the mat. "You're already pinned ... one ... two ... three," Cameron says derisively, amazed at how clueless the new kid is. "You might as well leave now," he says in disgust, then pulls apart the ropes to facilitate the boy's quick exit.
The boy stays in the ring. Cameron makes him do some pushups before the two lock up collar and elbow, and within a second Bobby's shoulders are pinned to the mat once more. It should be noted that Bobby Blake is a fine looking wrestler too, darkly yet unaffectedly handsome, a muscular but softly contoured physique with tattoos between his shoulders and on his right tricep. What we used to call a "stud muffin" back in my day (a different creature than the "twink," in my opinion--less svelte, more butch). Bobby tries to turn the tables on Cam, demanding that Mathews do some pushups too, a bit of impertinence that gets him shoved roughly into a corner and kicked in the balls.
Then comes the expected parade of wrestling moves--clutches, scissors, gut punches, slams, crabs, elbow drops, claws, figure fours, and so on--interspersed with more pushups, more sneering putdowns. Pretty sexy stuff. There's nothing outstanding about the way Cameron delivers these assaults--each one performed with textbook precision--but it's fun the way Cam goads Bobby into admitting that he would like to kick Cameron's ass, if only he could.
The abuse escalates, but neither man breaks a sweat: a lost opportunity, the way I see it. Mathews stretches Blake longwise on the middle rope and clutches the kid's crotch. The rookie's groans arise from deep down. I could almost believe as deep down as his scrotum. Cameron gets right in his face, twisting his ear in his fingers, telling him he's just no good as a wrestler, that he needs to give up his dream of Can-Am fame and glory, while (ironically) ensuring the kid a place in the Suffering Jobbers Hall of Fame (it's not hard to love this match ... a lot). Mathews works the ropes, the ring post, the apron; he works every part of Bobby's beefy bod. Finally he makes Blake admit that he's "nothing but a fucking loser," through agonized gasps. Still not a drop of sweat. Are these guys human or animatronic?
Except for its antiseptic sweatlessness, I love everything about this classic beatdown. (Next time director Ron Sexton might consider turning off the a/c, like the UCW guys do. I like a little shimmer on top of my twitching muscle.) Yet arguably its coolness lends to the classicism of the match, like two marble Athenians locked in eternal struggle. It's a short and sweet little wonderful thing--and not at all expensive. Brand new and the DVD is already a prized possession.